Home Discussion Forum The quote below is from the Tao Te Ching; how relevant would...

The quote below is from the Tao Te Ching; how relevant would you say this quote is today and why?

‘Why are the people starving?
Because the rulers eat up the money in taxes.
Therefore the people are starving.
Why are the people rebellious?
Because the rulers interfere too much.
Therefore the people are rebellious.
Why do the people think so little of death?
Because the rulers demand too much of life.
Therefore the people take death lightly.
Having little to live on, one knows better than to value life too much.’
Chapter 75.


  1. Not very relevant. Seriously, who takes death lightly today? At least among industrialized nations, we don’t live in abject misery and thus this doesn’t really apply.

  2. I think it is very relevant. A government which takes too much from the people starves the people. Consider the USSR. People become destitute and desperate, but there is a silver lining, that people can find wisdom in being free from the constraints of valuing life too much. BTW, my version (which I like a bit better) says:
    The people are hungry:
    It is because those in authority eat up too much in taxes
    That the people are hungry.
    The people are difficult to govern:
    It is because those in authority are too fond of action
    That the people are difficult to govern.
    The people treat death lightly:
    It is because the people set too much store by life
    That they treat death lightly.
    It is just because one has no use for life that one is wiser than the man who values life.
    -I often find it useful to read multiple translations.


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